DraftKings NFL Value Plays: Week 1 (Updated)
Week 1 of the daily fantasy season will always be one of the most value-filled weeks of the year. DraftKings releases player salaries roughly six weeks before the games will actually take place. In that time frame, a player’s role can increase or decrease due to injury, camp performance, or preseason performance. Let’s take an early look at some players that have been under-priced, which should allow them to reach value on opening weekend. Keep in mind these selections may change as the season nears.
Carson Palmer vs. Saints $6,500
Unfortunately for Palmer, his 2014 season will be remembered as an injury-laden campaign in which he only appeared in six games. In those contests, he averaged 19 fantasy points per game and that includes his early exit in Week 10. To open the season, the Cardinals host a Saints team that lacked the ability to stop opposing offenses last year. The Saints finished near the bottom in several categories defensively and didn’t make vast improvements to the unit. They did add CB Brandon Browner, but Palmer should be able to reach value especially if he continues last year’s pace of 37 pass attempts per game. The Cardinals may be without WR Michael Floyd for this game, but Larry Fitzgerald, John Brown, and pass-catching specialist Andre Ellington will provide Palmer with enough options to move the ball. For cash games, 240 yards and two touchdowns will allow Palmer to pay off his price tag.
Shane Vereen @ Cowboys $4,200
Vereen’s situation sets up nicely for DraftKings PPR format in Week 1. The Giants’ are underdogs to the Cowboys in a game projected to see among the highest scores of the weekend. In addition, reports coming out of Giants’ camp state that Vereen will handle both the passing-down work and the hurry-up offense. If the game shakes out as the odds makers predict, the Giants should be playing from behind in a high-scoring game. It’s not hard to envision plenty of check downs to Vereen in the fourth quarter as the Giants and Cowboys trade blows in a game that should have plenty of fantasy production. He should see a few more targets with Victor Cruz expected to be sidelined due to a calf injury. Vereen only needs 13 fantasy points to meet value, which is very doable with the game script that should play out here.
Stevie Johnson vs. Lions $3,700
Philip Rivers raved about Johnson during the first days of camp, saying if there was one player that would have a big impact for the offense this year, it’d be him. All indications point to Stevie replacing Eddie Royal in the slot in 2015. In the previous two seasons, the slot receiver in San Diego, mainly Royal, has had a prominent role early in the season notching several multi-touchdown games. Johnson is a solid contrarian tournament play that should have a low ownership level, which would give those that roster him a significant advantage. Until we see exactly how the Chargers utilize Johnson in game action, I wouldn’t plug him into any of your cash games.
John Brown vs. Saints $4,500
We’ve already discussed why the Saints on the road would be a good matchup to target in Week 1 while discussing Palmer’s upside. Now let’s have a look at one of his pass-catchers. Brown had a very boom or bust type of year in 2014, but the telling stat is in his splits with and without Palmer. Brown was basically four fantasy points per game better with Palmer at the helm. Plus, the Cardinals could be minus Michael Floyd, which is not reflected in Brown’s price. He will most definitely see a bump in targets with Floyd on the shelf. The Cardinals are projected to score 27 points, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see Brown find the end zone as well. A Palmer/Brown stack in the Week 1 Millionaire Maker may be just the contrarian play that wins it all.
Eddie Royal vs. Green Bay $3,900
Royal reunites with his buddy Jay Cutler in Chicago for 2015. If you recall, Royal and Cutler teamed up in Denver for 90+ receptions in Royal’s rookie year. Apparently, Cutler made the push for the Bears to go after Royal this offseason. The Bears Week 1 match up with the Packers projects to be one of the highest scoring games of the weekend at 50 total points. Royal should see plenty of targets to meet value, especially with Kevin White out and Alshon Jeffery’s health in question.
Owen Daniels vs. Ravens $3,400
I’ll hesitate to call this a “revenge” game, because I don’t know if Daniels has any ill will towards his former team, but it should provide some extra motivation to perform well. Moving with Daniels to Denver is Gary Kubiak, the offensive coordinator that called the Ravens’ plays last year that produced a nice statistical season for Daniels. Peyton Manning’s arm strength has seen better days which should lead to more running and short-to-intermediate passes for the Broncos this season. In addition, Manning likes to target his tight end in the red zone, so the possibility of a score is there. This salary jumped off the page at me because I’d probably consider Daniels at $4,400 let alone $3,400. I can see myself “punting” the TE position with Daniels in both cash and tournaments.